Automakers should party like it's … 2012. Sales kicked off the new year at the same pace as they ended the last, with figures from the top seven largest automakers up a combined 15.6% versus January 2012. Ford and Toyota led the way with gains of 20% or better, but Nissan and Hyundai-Kia both saw a roughly flat month. None of the six automakers saw a sales decrease, however.
Ford's banner month shifted the top 10 best-sellers. The Focus compact dropped from the list, but the Fusion sedan and Escape SUV reprised their standings; both were absent in December 2012. Despite two recalls following its launch early last fall, the redesigned Fusion shot up 64.5%, and this came with lighter incentives than the outgoing Fusion a year ago. The redesigned Honda Accord — winner of our recent Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Family Sedan Showdown — picked up even better speed, packing on 75.2% to stay 1,525 cars ahead of the Fusion. Keep an eye out: That race could end the year in a photo finish.
J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman pegged sales right around December's annualized rate, Automotive News reports, meaning January would tie for the second best sales month since February 2008. Shoppers kept buying despite fewer deals. Total dealer and automaker discounts now combine for $5,223, according to CNW Marketing Research. That's down more than $500 versus January 2012, and combined with rising MSRPs, it's driven the average new car to $32,163 in January — up 6.6% versus a year ago.